Illumina in the EU Antitrust Sight Over Premature $ 8 Billion Grail Deal


Brussels — U.S. life sciences company Illumina has made a large sum of its $ 8 billion cash and stake acquisition by cancer detection test maker Grail without first obtaining EU antitrust approval. You may face fines.

Illumina said it would close the acquisition of the Holy Grail on Wednesday and separate the company while waiting for the European Commission to decide whether to clear or block the deal.

However, EU officials said Friday they would investigate whether Illumina violated its suspension obligations, which required it to secure EU antitrust approval before signing the merger agreement.

“We are deeply regretted that Illumina has decided to complete the acquisition of Grail while the investigation into the transaction is still underway,” Vice-Chairman of the Commission Marguerite Vestager said in a statement. ..

Marguerite Vestagar
The European Commission’s Marguerite Vestager spoke at a press conference on June 9, 2021 at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on a competitive sector survey. (JohnThys / Pool via Reuters)

“This obligation, which we call a suspension obligation, is at the heart of the merger management system and takes the possibility of a breach very seriously,” said Vestager.

Illumina introduced a statement released Wednesday to Reuters on Friday, stating that reacquiring and separating GRL is the only way to meet the deadline for completing the transaction.

Violations of EU regulations can result in fines of up to 10% of a company’s total sales. For example, French telecommunications group Altice was fined € 125 million ($ 146 million) three years ago for acquiring PT Portugal in 2015 before obtaining regulatory approval. rice field.

EU antitrust regulators warned on July 22 that the Illumina bid could curb innovation and competition as it began a full investigation into the issue.

Illumina’s decision to close Grail’s deal preceded the August 24 trial by the US Federal Trade Commission.

Grail performs non-invasive early-detection biopsy tests and uses DNA sequencing to screen for different types of cancer.

By Foo Yun Chee